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I need math work, is Ubuntu good for me?

  1. May 23, 2010 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I'm considering switching to Ubuntu. But I'm not sure if it suits my work needs. I will summarize my questions in points:
    • I use MS Word for my writings, I need full equation editor, does Open Office provide that?
    • I use some table method in MS Word to number my equations there, can I do that in Open Office? (The method is described here)
    • I'm using Excel for curve fitting, and also (which is very important) find an equation for the curve generated, Excel can offer linear, logarithmic, polynomial up to the 6th degree and other kinds of regression. Is that available in Open Office or any other program that works on Ubuntu?
    • I'm also going to need Matlab, Mathematica or similar programs. Is there a version of such programs that works on Ubuntu? But free of course!
    Those are my concerns about switching to Ubuntu, I actually want to but I need to know if it fits my work or not, so I hope someone would help me answer these questions.

    Thank you in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2010 #2


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    1. OpenOffice does have an equation editor. I've never used it myself, but I opened it up to try it out and found the interface a little bland, although it seems to be pretty capable. If OO doesn't suit your needs you may be able to run MS Office on Ubuntu using WINE (which is kind of like a Windows emulator).
    2. OO Writer actually includes a macro (or hotkey?) that creates a numbered equation for you: type fn at the start of a paragraph and then press F3. (I found this on a website)
    3. OO Calc can do curve fitting, although for some odd reason it only seems to offer linear, logarithmic, exponential, and power law fits, not polynomials. Perhaps polynomial fits are available as an addon or something. To be honest, there are probably hundreds of tools available on Ubuntu that can handle curve fitting and data analysis better than OO Calc or Excel.
    4. You're not expecting to suddenly be able to get Matlab or Mathematica for free just because you start using Linux, are you?! Both programs have versions that run on Ubuntu, but you will have to pay for them, same as the Windows versions. If your workplace or school has some sort of volume license deal that allowed you to get the Windows version of either program for free, that should apply as well to the Linux version. There are also several free programs that aim to provide roughly the same functionality as Matlab and Mathematica, although from what I've seen none of them are quite as good as the original. They may well be fine for your purposes.

    By the way, if you're going to switch to Ubuntu I would strongly consider you to give LaTeX a try as a replacement for MS Word. In fact, even if you stay on Windows, take a look at MikTeX (the Windows version). It definitely takes some getting used to but it makes typing up technical documents, especially equations, so much easier.
  4. May 23, 2010 #3
    There is some excellent free math software for linux. There is Octave which is similar to Matlab and even uses the same commands. And there Maxima which is a quality CAS software similar to Maple, or Mathematica.

    In any case as said before, the real Matlab or Mathematica is also available in linux, but they are not free.
  5. May 23, 2010 #4
    You can do both 2D curve fitting and 3D surface fitting online at http://zunzun.com, and the Python source code is freely available under a liberal BSD-style license at Google source code repository: http://code.google.com/p/pythonequations/

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  6. May 23, 2010 #5


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    Don't forget to consider the possibility of dual-booting.
  7. May 25, 2010 #6
    If you already have access to all of the software you need on Windows, why in the world would you want to switch?

    There are "free" alternatives to everything you've mentioned on Linux but, in my experience, they pale in comparison to the proprietary versions you'll be used to from Windows.
  8. May 25, 2010 #7
    Thank you so much guys. I actually tried OpenOffice and I don't think it suits me at all though.. but I will try other programs that you suggested.
    I'm not actually using MATLAB yet, but I know I'm gonna need it soon that's why I asked.

    @diazona I'm not expecting free MATLAB on Linux no I just meant if there are other software that's similar to it that is free.
    Frankly I couldn't deal with OO, MS Word is much faster for me, I think I might try that WINE thing, and LaTeX too.
    Thank you so much for your help

    @waht, zunzun, Hurkyl Thanks a lot for the info, I might actually use those programs. I appreciate your help.

    @shoehorn Actually Windows has so many problems, it's unstable and lags all the time, at least with me.. Ubuntu has several advantages, I also like the idea of "open source" you know. I'm still thinking though.
  9. May 25, 2010 #8


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    Then why not following Hurkyl's tip? I myself dual boot Windows XP and Ubuntu 10.04.
  10. May 25, 2010 #9
    Here's something worth thinking about: Windows has been essentially rock-solid in terms of stability since Service Pack 2 for XP was released. Sure, Vista might have been annoying, but the problems with stability are long gone. If, however, your Windows machine is performing poorly then either (i) you have strange hardware which is making the OS unstable, or (ii) you're clogging it up with so much crud that you're making it unstable.

    Neither of these problems will be solved by moving to Linux. Indeed, given the generally poorer hardware support on Linux and the general all-round flakiness of Linux in comparison with Windows or OS X, your problems may very well become worse.

    Unless you have an absolutely compelling reason to migrate to Linux, I'd avoid it. It isn't yet an acceptable alternative to Windows or OS X for the great majority of users, despite what the FOSS crowd have been saying since 2003.
  11. Feb 9, 2012 #10
    whatever MS office has, open office/Libre office has but for free.

    They may be a different layout and harder to use, after you know what's what its easy on Linux.

    and Linux lags less and doesn't need anti-virus. Linux can be used on systems with strange architecture too. Linux 32 bit management is also far better than windows, e.g. win-32 can only have 4GB(3GB max in most cases) Ram max but linuc can have 64GB Ram max.

    and if you're gonna be using more than 16TB of HD use linux because windows stops at 16TB but linux stops at 1.8 EB

    Also linux comes with a bunch of pre-programmed of maths Software other than OF Calc.
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